*Editor’s Note: This piece is a two-part tale followed directly after Kayci’s first featured piece, Plastic Swans, consisting of the same characters, same context, and slightly different feelings.
A golden lamb slaughtered
It is Sunday evening, and all of the family is home.
The brothers are inside their trailer together, but there is no movement, no sound, only the smell of burning from the pile of trash aflame in a pit behind their trailer. The wind carries ash and sets it atop the roof in a thin, even layer.
Cynthia is sitting on the arm of Nanny’s chair painting Nanny’s nails. She lays down a red base, then over that clear polish with golden sparkles, running her hands over Nanny’s as she works. They are so beautifully old, devoid of flesh. Each vein stands out like a worm, and her knuckles protrude through her thin skin.
Paul is on the couch, falling asleep with a half-eaten dinner of bacon, green beans, and macaroni and cheese in his lap. His cancerous ear is cradled in his hand.
Papa is in his armchair, reciting to Cynthia and Nanny from the Psalms in a slow, deep timbre.
“Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
The acres are quiet, the sun lying just above the treetops to the west. The light beams cut through the bay window and fall across Paul’s sleeping face. The overwhelming brown landscape is illuminated and dusted with shades of orange and gold, the broken lawnmowers, the gravel drive, the rusted sheds, the metal trailers, even the living flames, all of it beautifully suspended and still. In this small moment, the chaos of all these long, painful lives winds itself down and settles into a cinder block foundation of beauty, of burning trash and overgrown grandeur, of desire and tire, a foundation constructed on the irreparable gentle, simple human existence.
Through poetry and non-fiction, Kayci Lineberger writes emotional and analytical works regarding the human-animal bond, the influences between the natural world and the existence of the human race, and topics regarding intimacy and empathy. She has contributed to art and literature magazines Out of Hand and Kiosk, and is releasing her first poetry collection, A small moment that stuck in 2018.